BCBA Kristin Taft gives us tips for back to school!
The summer is a great time for most kids and families. It’s full of fun, adventures, family vacations, no school, and trips to water parks and the beach. For those families who have a child on the Autism spectrum however, the summer may be a more difficult time. It goes from a child transitioning from a consistent schedule (e.g., waking up, having breakfast, going to school, coming home, having dinner, and going to bed) to your child not having a typical routine in the summer. If you’re reading this, you probably know what happens when your child’s routine gets disrupted but if you don’t, it’s typically not good. The first couple of weeks may be difficult for your child to adjust to the new summer schedule. Some children are able to adjust quicker than others. Some may take the whole summer to finally adjust to the new schedule. Then just like that, summer is over and you are back to square one. In order to ease the transition from summer to the beginning of a new school year, we have provided some tips:
1. Prepare your child as far in advance for what to expect in the coming days/weeks
- Create a calendar or countdown to provide a visual of when the change is going to occur.
- Simulate the routine of a school day (setting the alarm clock, having meals at the same time every day, going to bed at an earlier time, etc.)
- Take a trip to the school. Once you figure out what classroom your child will be in, it is important for him or her to familiarize themselves with the environment they will be spending most their day in.
- Get familiar with the uniform or dress code. Some schools require a school uniform which may take some time to adjust to because of sensory defensiveness or overall discomfort. It is important to practice wearing these clothes and getting used to them.
- Practice sitting at tables and doing some sort of academic activity. Dust the spider webs off your kid’s brain so that they have an easier time staying focused and attending to the academic tasks given to them.
2. Speak to the new teachers and school staff.
- It is important for both the teachers to get accustomed to your child, and your child to get accustomed to the teacher. If there is a “meet the teachers day,” take advantage of it. A new school year brings about a lot of different changes: new teachers, new classroom, new classmates, etc. and it is important for your child to feel as comfortable as possible when the time comes.
- If there is anything in particular that you or your therapists have been working on over the summer, let the teachers know. If there is an intervention that was newly introduced over the summer and was successful, let them know. We want our children to be able to generalize the same skills across different people and settings. If there are new behaviors or anything that you think would be helpful for staff to know, don’t be afraid to let them know.
3. Don’t be anxious about the transition.
- Although most people love summer and don’t want it to end, we have to ensure to our children that school isn’t such a bad thing. Be optimistic about the new school year and tell them all of the great new things they will be learning, the new friends they will be making, and the awesome new teachers they will have.
- Don’t get discouraged if things don’t go well the first week or so. Big transitions take time for our children to get used to. They may exhibit some maladaptive behaviors within the first few weeks of school, but we know that routines take time to get accustomed to.
- There are only a few days (weeks for some) until your children return to school. It is important for you to enjoy these last few moments. Make the most of the rest of your summer before you are tied down with trying to remember your multiplication facts or how to do long division. Get outside and enjoy your time with your kids!
We wish you the best of luck with your child’s transition to a new school year. Nothing makes us happier than the progress that we see in each and every one of our kiddos, and we praise you all for the hard work and dedication that you put in to your families. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.